Kim Stelson of the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power explained how the consortium is focused on creating smaller and lighter components and systems with the same performance standards. And saving energy at the same time is always top of mind. Stelson mentioned the CCEFP’s recent project that showed a 40% fuel savings on a TB1 excavator.
We heard that New York City is requesting bids for 300 hybrid refuse trucks. That kind of news is so great to hear—after so many years of component manufacturers saying that hydraulic hybrids are the future, I think the future is now. And in the wind power arena, Stelson explained how gearbox failure is such a huge problem for the industry. Hydrostatic transmissions seem primed to serve as a replacement, and compressed air is also being looked at as an energy storage vehicle.
John Ferriola, the president and CEO of Nucor, one of the largest steel manufacturers in the U.S., gave his outlook for the manufacturing segment.
“No one is coming to our rescue,” he said. “We have to understand our economic situation and work together.”
Ferriola pointed out that from June 1998 to December 2010, one-third of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost. Manufacturing jobs are at their lowest level in 70 years. And U.S. light vehicle sales not expected to return to normal levels until 2013.
“Don’t buy into that because 2013 will be flat and 2014 will be a mild recession,” Beaulieu said.
But, he noted, “we’ll breeze through it.”
According to Beaulieu, we need to create 230,000 jobs each month for the next 10 years to get back to the full employment levels from before the downturn. Efficiency has been forced into our economy because of China and other competitors. Manufacturing jobs will never get back to levels of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. But he said it is not about the valuation of yuan.
“What we really need to do is drive every pinnacle of efficiency into our businesses,” Beaulieu said. “Those are the things that are going to change our world going forward. There is no panacea of government action.”
Looking further forward, Beaulieu called 2017 “a great time to retire,” given that we’ll have a recession in 2018-2019, and he warned that signs point to the 2030s being a very bad decade for growth.